When life is work

Compass (on our ABC) showed a programme on Sunday evening about the changes in society around the new Workplace legislation and the idea of a 24×7 economy and what that means for workers. It was an interesting discussion, focussed (naturally) on the church-based viewpoint that we need some sort of balance where people have time to go to church; play with your children; have family dinners where some members aren’t absent due to the demands of shift work. This is one of the topics on which I agree with the overtly religious. How do you build a vibrant functioning community when so many people can’t fully participate in social activities? The program mentioned the issue with parent volunteers for childrens’ sporting clubs, and parents who can’t get to see their kids in school plays.

A spokeswoman from a business group disputes the size of the problem, stating that:

I think that’s much more about people not belonging to things. You know, I think people are less community minded than they used to be and you know, any membership organisation will tell you it’s harder to get people to belong including political parties, you know, you can put the – most of the joint membership of most political parties into you know, a football stadium. I think there’s you do, those sort of senses of community aren’t as strong as they used to be and ah, I think that’s something more to concern ourselves with than whether people, you know have everyone has Saturday and Sunday off. I think this issue of belonging and supporting each other is very, very important.

That’s such a silly attempt to turn the result of the problem into its cause. Sure, we don’t have the same sense of community as was evident in the past. That’s because we are all so-often forced to do things with our time that preclude being community minded and coaching the local soccer team, or starting a community garden. We work so long and and so hard that we have litle energy left for extra-work activities.

The same woman also tries to talk her way around the problem of parents not being able to spend quality time with their children by suggesting that they come to work with the parents. I can just see that working for shop assistants or lathe operators.

The programme paints a sad picture for the future of the community under the current workplace regime. Unfortunately all the people with the power to change things seem not to care – maybe because they can afford to pay for nannies and boarding school where they can send the brats away and out of their hair.

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